There’s so much to consider when travelling abroad with Type One diabetes. This guide aims to cover most of the essentials you need to know along with some top product recommendations to make your holiday easier and more organised all round.
Disclaimer: please note, this post contains affiliate links which means if clicked through I may receive a small commission for any products purchased but at no extra cost to you.
Travelling abroad with Type One can be daunting and overwhelming. So many different things to consider, things to pack, how much of everything to take and of course being prepared for any kit problems and ensuring you have back-ups (of everything) with you. Hopefully this guide will give you lots of top tips for making sure you have everything you need for a fantastic and stress free holiday.
What to pack.
Packing for the whole family and in particularly when you have a child with Type One can be a stressful process. Making sure you have got every eventuality covered is key in having a successful holiday for all to enjoy. Here are some useful pointers and at the end of this section be sure to download your FREE holiday checklist for the full list and also browse some of my must have and highly recommended products below.
- Everyday kit bag well stocked with all the essentials: lancets, finger pricking device, pump handset or meter, injection pens, needles, spare cannula’s if on pump, CGM sensors, handset or phone, wet wipes, hypo treatment, snacks, glucogel tubes, orange injection.
- Pack at least double of what you actually need to make ensure all eventualities are covered such as lost luggage or theft of a bag.
- A well thought out storage bag for supplies that makes squeezing everything in and organising it so you can find it when you need it later is a must.
- If flying you can get an extra hand luggage allowance for medical supplies. It is recommended to pack all of your Type One supplies in hand luggage rather than putting in the hold.
- Spread supplies equally between two bags with double the amount needed so if you misplaced one bag you would still have enough to get by with the other.
- If on an insulin pump ALWAYS carry back up injection pens complete with needles and insulin sufficient to see you through if for whatever reason your pump fails or gets damaged.
- Pack plenty of hypo treatment as you may not be able to get the same at your destination.
- Consider taking prepackaged snacks in suitcases too such as cereal bars, biscuits.
- Dioralyte sachets can be a lifesaver in the unfortunate case of getting a sickness bug whilst away as they can keep your child hydrated as well as keeping glucose levels up whilst not eating but continuing to administer insulin to prevent ketones rising.
- Suitable storage to keep insulin cool for the journey. Frio pouches are amazing and can be recooled easily whilst on the go.
- Sharps disposal containers – need not be yellow boxes, sometimes a sealed tupperware box can be more space saving and compact.
- Adhesive tape or over patches for cannula and CGM sites especially if your child is going to be in and out of the pool or sea.
- Always have travel insurance documents and emergency contact numbers for DSN, GP, pump and CGM companies easily accessible incase an emergency arises.
- Consider medical alert ID or jewellery so the person with Type One is easily identified if neccessary.
- Hospital letter especially if flying, stating the the importance of carrying medical kit with you at all times and the importance of electronic medical equipment not to pass through the X-ray machines.
- Remember chargers for all devices and spare batteries.
- For pump users, take a variety of pump pouches to work with different outfits.
- Also consider an Aquapac for keeping insulin pumps clean, dry and free from sand whilst still remaining connected.
- Compact weighing scales to make carbohydrate counting a little easier and less guess work.
- Carbs and Cals Pocket book to assist in carb counting.
- European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if travelling withing Europe to ensure easy access and prompt medical care should it be needed.
- First aid kit for all the essentials. Remember paracetamol should be avoided for CGM users (it can make readings inaccurate), so where possible use Nurofen. Also include a variety of dressings, plasters, mosquito repellents, antihistamines etc.
- Prescription list complete with translations should you need access to any of it in a foreign pharmacy.
- Click here to download your FREE holiday checklist printable.
My Best Holiday Products
A fantastic way to store all your spare supplies all in one spacious, yet compact bag. Lots of small compartments.
A must for keeping blood sugars up when child not eating due to sickness. We always have these on hand in case of a sickness bug strikes.
Our “go-to” product for securing cannula and CGM sites. A thin transparent film that can be cut to what ever size necessary. I normally get the 5cm width of roll.
These Joseph Joseph scales are a must to slip into your hand bag for weighing breakfast cereals and other foods. Stylish, lightweight and compact. Ours go everywhere with us.
9. Dia wipes.
Waste no space with these handy and compact finger wipe packets. Great to take everywhere to ensure clean fingers for testing.
10. Diabetic bum bag.
A perfect, compact bag for carrying round everyday testing essentials and glucose without having to carry an additional bag.
How you are travelling to your destination can change the preparations you need to make before and during the journey. Flying probably has the most complex system of security for passing through border control so here are some of my tips to consider when flying:
- You can request an extra hand luggage bag for medical supplies.
- When you arrive at the airport, head straight to Customer Service/Medical Assistance counter (normally located around the entrance).
- Ask for a medical assistance lanyard (you normally need to fill a short form in with the passengers details).
- Put the lanyard around the Type One passenger and this will allow you to go to the front of the check in queue and down all the fast track lanes for passport control and security. You will find this especially useful on the return journey when all the passengers often arrive for check in at the same time. This will help you to avoid the queues.
- You can now print off a Medical Devices Awareness Card to carry with you through security. Read more about this here.
- Make sure you have your hospital letter at the ready for security.
- Have liquids and insulin all bagged up ready in clear sealed bags and have extra bags for your return journey.
- Ensure you know where all your medical equipment such as meters, pump handsets, receivers are so you can hand them over together to avoid them going through the X-ray machine.
- Be aware that the altitude when flying can affect your insulin absorption and it can be recommended to disconnect your insulin pump whilst they are pressurising and depressurising the cabin during take off and landing, to avoid any surge in insulin due to the pressure change. A line fill before reconnecting is a good way to push through any air bubbles that may have formed.
Type of Holiday
The type of holiday you are going on and effect what sort of care and adjustments may be needed to your care plan.
Holiday in the Sun
With managing diabetes, no two days are the same and no two people are the same in the way their blood sugars respond to the heat. Some may find blood levels are elevated yet for others they can be lower and at more risk of hypoglycaemia. Here are a few key points to remember:
- Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water.
- Keep out of direct sunlight wherever possible and avoid the heat of the day.
- Avoid over-stacking insulin when snacking alot by reducing bolus ratios or where necessary snack without bolusing if levels are low.
- Regularly flush the line through on insulin pumps to remove the insulin that may have become overheated in the sun.
- Change insulin cartridges more regularly.
- Keep spare insulin cool and kit bags in the shade.
- Test regularly or monitor CGM closely.
- Be safety conscious and keep your kit bag in sight at all times to prevent theft by opportunists.
- Consider carrying essentials around the waist for security. Myabetic do some fantastic stylish waist pouches. Click here for men and here for the ladies! To check out my more detailed post on pump pouches for kids go to my best kit bags for Type One kids post here!
Active holidays such as hiking, swimming, skiing, water sports etc can all affect how we need to adjust our diabetes management so take extra care.
- Adjust basal insulin to account for the extra activity.
- Always carry plenty of snacks and hypo treatment with you.
- Always take a break when hypo to allow glucose to be absorbed before resuming exercise.
- Stay hydrated.
- Try to eat long lasting carbohydrates to keep your levels good for longer.
- Wear comfy foot wear when on your feet for long period to protect from damage that can take longer to heal with Type One.
Final Important Tips
- Always double check diet/low sugar drinks on tap to make sure they are sugar free. You can do this with urine dip sticks or a regular test strip dipped in the drink.
- Test regularly and especially before swimming/other exercise and at regular intervals during prolonged exercise.
- Relax and enjoy the adventure.
- Type One can be a huge inconvenience on holiday but don’t let it get in the way of having a fantastic time.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and all my tips and suggestions are based on my own personal travel experience through travelling with a Type One child. I don’t take any responsibility for any problems or issues with type one diabetes. Please contact your diabetic nurse or doctor before embarking on a new journey!